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Focus on Faithfulness By Larry Gadbaugh

 

What does faithfulness look like in this season?

This question about faithfulness has become an essential in my pursuit of being a good steward of my calling.  Discerning the answer to this question helps me gain direction during the most challenging and uncertain periods of leading our organization.

As the new CEO of First Image in 2001, I was insecure about fundraising. The 9/11 crisis greatly stretched my faith. The economic downturn around 2008 exposed other areas I was not equipped to navigate. During the upheaval of 2020’s pandemic and its collateral damage is uncharted territory. And, I have to trust that God’s faithfulness will be our guide in whatever outcomes we face after tomorrow’s contentious election.

HOPE IN UNCERTAINTY

Asking, “What does faithfulness look like in this season” has been become crucial in gaining hope in uncertain times.

Such challenges put my faith to the test as a steward leader. Do I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who created all things, who holds every atom of his creation together, who superintends everything that exists in order to fulfill the ultimate purpose of his glory and pleasure? And, is he willing to grant grace to us for our particular enterprise and mission? If this is true (and it is), then my primary task is to seek him for wisdom, and then pursue his guidance with faithfulness.

The practice of faithfulness is all-encompassing, so I’ll only share one promise that motivates us to persevere in its practice.

THE PROMISE

Peter the Apostle, who had his struggles with faithfulness in spite of every good intention, gives us an amazing promise.

Our lives will be fruitful, productive, effective, if we are growing in Christ-like virtues.

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (See II Peter 1:3-11).

The virtues Peter lists are parallel to the fruit of the Spirit, which includes faithfulness [Gal. 5:22].

I have had plenty of seasons where I’ve felt my responsibilities as husband, father, pastor, CEO have been far over my head. Those are the times God is calling me to focus on “being” before “doing.” God is first concerned on making me like his Son, so that everything that I do can flow out of who I am yoked with, abiding in, walking with, crucified with, raised with.

STEADFAST FOCUS

My focus on faithfulness in growing in Christ-likeness is a crucial element in setting the culture of my staff. They know that apart from abiding and growing in our personal fellowship with Jesus, we cannot produce outcomes that will last. In fact Jesus says that ongoing growth in him is the only way we can be assured of becoming even more productive in anything that matters. [See John 15:4-5, 16].

While our stewardship certainly demands paying close attention to key metrics, key indicators, bottom lines, ROIs, and strategic plans, my focus on faithfulness comes before and goes beyond those important things.

Faithfulness raises my sights above and beyond all current success, opposition, obstacles, setbacks, failures, and distractions, because it sets my perspective on God’s ways and purpose. Exercising faithfulness looks past the temporary, beyond what I can calculate with my data. Faithfulness focuses on Who defines my identity, Who holds my destiny, and Who will give me my final review and my entrance commendation. Faithfulness exposes the fiction that I am the owner of anything, and the truth that God as my Creator and Redeemer owns me and everything for which he has made me his son and his steward.

CULTIVATING FAITHFULNESS

Here are some ways we can cultivate faithfulness.

  • Focus on God’s ultimate goal for us: to become Christ-like in our character. Focus on “being” as the root of everything we’re “doing.”
  • Believe and pursue growing in Christ’s virtues. Engage in a study of the virtues in II Peter 1:5-7 and the fruit of the Spirit in Gal 5:22-23.
  • Cultivate a culture in your organization that encourages and rewards personal growth towards Christ-likeness
  • Incorporate the question in your staff check-ins: What does faithfulness look like in this season in all our relationships and responsibilities?

Together, we can become the kinds of steward-leaders who look forward to hearing from Jesus,

“Well done, good and faithful servant!”

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Larry Gadbaugh has served as the CEO of First Image in Portland, Oregon, since 2001. Diane and he have been married for 42 years and have five adult children and three grandchildren.

 

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